What Do Turkeys Eat: Turkeys Diet

Being omnivores, wild and domesticated turkeys can eat a varied diet of many food items. Wild and domestic turkeys can eat seeds, fruits, corn, insects, and grains. Domesticated turkeys also consume commercial turkey feeds that match all the growth stages of their life. Commercial turkey feed has an adequate balance of fiber, calcium, protein starch, and vitamins.

Natural Diet of Wild Turkeys

The diet of wild turkeys, such as the eastern wild turkeys, Florida wild turkeys, and Merriam’s wild turkeys, varies by season. Wild turkeys eat insects and plants in the summer and spring. There are plenty of fruits and nuts in the winter for wild turkeys. Wild turkeys are omnivorous, meaning these fowls can eat various foods, plants, and animals.

They are voracious foragers that consume many different things. For instance, wild turkeys forage for nuts, such as beechnuts, walnuts, acorns, and hickory nuts. They can eat either whole or cracked nuts.

Seeds and grains are also among the wild turkeys’ favorite foods. Wild turkeys forage on fields for corn, bird seeds, and wheat. They also eat crabapples, wild grapes, and small fruits. Adult wild turkeys can consume small reptiles, such as snakes and lizards. They consume fleshy plant parts, including roots, succulents, cacti, bulbs, and buds. Large insects, such as spiders, grasshoppers, and caterpillars, are excellent food choices for wild turkeys.

The geographical location of a wild turkey can influence the choice of foods the bird can find. For instance, wild turkeys that inhabit forested areas will consume plenty of small fruits and nuts. Wild turkeys in open desert regions eat seeds, cacti, and reptiles for nutrition. Those in agricultural areas usually rely on grains.

Age also influences the diet of a wild turkey. For example, baby wild turkeys forage for the most available foods. In their first months, baby wild turkeys eat plenty of insects, smaller reptiles, mollusks, and other meat sources to get the crucial protein they require for healthy growth.

Adult wild turkeys consume various foods to suit their nutritional requirements. They get a varied diet depending on the available food sources. Most adult wild turkeys gobble plant matter, although they try other available food sources, including meat.

Domesticated Turkeys’ Diet

Domesticated turkeys eat commercial feeds formulated for game fowl in agricultural settings or captivity. Such commercial feeds contain a mixture of foods to enhance domestic turkeys’ highly varied diets. Turkey farmers also supplement their turkey flocks’ feed with other grains and corn. Domesticated turkeys’ diet usually encourages faster growth and heavier birds to boost commercial profits.

Some turkey raisers, however, concentrate on heritage turkey species and provide their turkeys with a natural diet. Farmers also allow their turkeys to forage through fields and pastures. Free-range domestic turkeys’ diet includes various foods, ranging from bugs, small reptiles, seeds, grains, and fruits.

The diet for domesticated turkeys also depends on food availability, season, and age. Domestic turkeys can eat lizards, small snakes, grasshoppers, slugs, and snails. These birds also enjoy consuming acorns, seeds, nuts, corn, peas, and grains. They snack on flowers, bulbs, berries, fruits, and bulbs.

Commercial turkey feed is the most affordable and available diet option for domesticated turkeys, especially for small turkey flocks. You can get commercial turkey feed at feed stores. The benefit of feeding commercial turkey feed to your flock is that it is nutritionally balanced to meet different growth stages, so turkey raisers can find suitable commercial turkey feed that works well for their flocks.

As domesticated turkeys grow, their diet and nutritional requirements change gradually. Young domestic turkeys, for example, require approximately 28% protein from an early age to encourage faster growth. Adult domesticated turkeys have a lower protein requirement than their younger, growing counterparts.

Commercial Turkey Feed

Commercial turkey feed is suitable for small to medium-sized turkey flocks. It’s readily available and a cost-effective diet option for turkeys in the long run. Commercial turkey feed comes in bags bearing the label gamebird feed. They are nutritionally balanced to suit the different growth stages of turkeys.

For instance, you can get commercial turkey feed for baby turkeys and adult birds. Commercial turkey feeds contain various ingredients. Corn is a significant ingredient in most commercial turkey feeds. It helps provide your turkey flock with energy and fat. Corn-rich commercial feed is particularly beneficial for turkeys in the winter.

Sunflower seeds are also a common ingredient in commercial feeds. The sunflower seeds oil can give your turkeys an attractive shine to their plumage. Furthermore, sunflower seeds contain about 17% protein, crucial for turkeys of all sizes and ages. Other high-quality commercial turkey feeds contain flax seeds, which are protein-rich seeds for turkeys.

They are favorite seeds for young turkeys that need a higher protein intake. Millet is a common ingredient in commercial turkey feed. It’s a rich source of amino acids and iron, which help the turkey’s neurological functions and other crucial body processes.

Commercial turkey feed manufacturers include millet because it’s an excellent source of amino acids and iron. Peas are also crucial ingredients in commercial turkey feeds. Feeds containing peas are particularly beneficial for baby turkeys and growing birds because such feeds provide the birds with a vast amount of protein.

Commercial turkey feeds are ideal for turkeys’ optimal growth. They are suitable for farmers keeping turkeys for meat since their birds require a weight gain boost. Overall, turkeys have a higher protein requirement than chickens and ducks, mainly when these birds are young.

Commercial turkey feeds can provide reliable sources of vitamins, proteins, nutrients, and trace minerals for getting the fastest growth possible for your flock. Feeding your turkeys high-quality commercial feed from their first growth stages can give the birds an excellent boost for growth and development.

Supplementary Foods for Turkeys

Turkeys can thrive with high-quality commercial feed that offers them complete nutrition. However, most commercial turkey feeds will only provide your flock with a decent amount of nutrients, vitamins, and trace minerals. It would be best for turkey raisers to supplement their birds’ diet with many foods.

Free-range turkeys are natural foragers who can access multiple foods to boost their nutrition. However, rearing turkeys indoors can be challenging because the birds will only get a few food sources. You can supplement turkey feed with vegetables to ensure your flock gets a healthy supply of vitamins.

Some excellent vegetables to ensure your turkeys get plenty of vitamins to boost their immunity and overall health include beets, carrots, Swiss chard, broccoli, cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins. Besides vegetables, your turkeys will require vitamin C, which they can derive from fruits. Your turkeys will get adequate amounts of this vitamin from fruits like mangoes, melons, oranges, and berries.

Without any doubt, turkeys require a steady supply of calcium like other poultry. Your turkeys may exhibit specific health problems that can result in early death. Some supplementary turkey foods that ensure your turkeys get adequate calcium include crushed limestone, crushed oyster shells, crushed eggshells, and vegetable scraps.

Some supplementary foods to boost your turkeys’ protein intake include fishmeal, mealworms, frozen bugs, and cooked eggs. Your turkeys will require protein in their various growth phases, so providing supplementary protein-rich foods will give the flock the vital protein it needs.

Foods to Avoid for Turkeys

While the omnivorous nature of turkeys allows them to eat almost everything, some foods can harm your flock. For instance, fatty foods can harm your turkeys by making them overweight. Uncooked beans contain natural insecticides like phytohaemagglutinin, which are dangerous to turkeys even in small amounts.

Avocados aren’t suitable for turkeys because they have persin, which can lead to abdominal lesions. Onions contain a compound known as thiosulfate, which leads to abnormal red blood cells in turkeys.

Feeding Tips for Keeping Turkeys Healthy

Adhering to the best feeding practices can help keep your turkeys healthy. For instance, giving your birds various foods besides relying on commercial feed alone will enhance their nutrition. Here are some feeding tips for keeping your turkeys healthy.

  • Give more protein-rich foods to baby turkeys and growing turkeys
  • Ensure your turkeys have various nutritional food
  • Feed your turkeys at least thrice daily
  • Always feed your turkeys with natural foods
  • Ensure your turkeys get a sufficient food ratio

Water and Hydration Needs of Turkeys

Turkeys require water like other poultry to keep them hydrated. Your turkeys should get clean water that is not too cold or hot. Turkeys will require more water than chickens to stay cool in hot weather. So refill the water containers if the water level continues to decrease because it shows the birds could be drinking plenty of water.

Furthermore, ensure your flock’s drinking water doesn’t freeze because cold water can lead to health issues in turkeys, such as flu.

Feeding Schedule for Turkeys

Turkeys should eat thrice daily, in the morning, midday, and a few hours before roosting. Every turkey should eat at least ½ cup of feed per serving. You can spread the feed to ensure every turkey consumes adequate feed.

The feed requirement for adult male turkeys is more than that of female turkeys because male turkeys are heavier than females. So males require more food than females.


Turkeys are omnivorous fowl that can consume almost all food types, provided these foods don’t hurt their growth and overall health. Wild turkeys have a more varied diet than domestic turkeys because they can access multiple food sources. While your turkeys will eat whatever comes their way, it helps ensure the birds eat foods that give them complete, balanced nutrition.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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